FAMILY RESOURCE CENTRES (FRCs) have seen a significant increase in demand over the last year as a result of the economic downturn, according to a new report.
The report, launched yesterday, shows the majority of new community groups established with help from family resource centres last year were focused on young people and on men.
In total, 223,077 people attended their local FRC last year to access advice or information, compared with 192,705 in 2010.
Claire Dineen, Chairperson of the Family Resource Centres National Forum said there has been a change in the services and supports people are availing of since the outset of the recession in 2008.
She said family resource centres were heavily involved in supporting job seekers with CV preparation and information about welfare entitlements at the beginning of the downturn.
“While there is still a demand for jobseeker support, many people are now looking to us for ways to connect with their community,” she said.
Increased numbers of men seeking support
“In particular, people are seeking to be involved in initiatives such as men’s sheds and support groups for people in long term unemployment or with mental health issues,” said Dineen.
Dineen said in the past groups such as women, lone parents and older people were always quicker to engage with their local FRC.
“As more men fall into long term unemployment, more young people are affected by the stresses of recession on their family, and more families struggle with limited finances, we adapt by ensuing that targeted interventions are in place,” she said.
Centres have also experienced a significant demand for education and training courses from unemployed people. Last year, family resource centres delivered 24 percent more training and development courses than 2012 and helped over 300 new community groups.
“These interventions are ensuring that individuals and families don’t become isolated and unsupported as the impact of the recession deepens,” said Dineen.
The level of counselling services delivered by centres in 2011 fell sharply with 5,025 people receiving counselling compared with 5,587 the previous year.
Dineen said this reduction was a result of reduced budgets where centres could no longer afford to maintain professional counselling hours.
“This is an area of great concern for us, as we know that – without the availability of such services in a community setting – families can be forced to carry their stresses alone,” she said.